The Benefits of Vitamin K (Plus, how to get more in your diet)
Vitamin K is a nutrient that has gotten less mainstream attention than some in the nutrition and supplement world (like vitamin D or omega 3’s, for example), but it is just as important.
Since many people don’t know the health benefits of vitamin K, it is much more common for deficiencies to exist (out of sight, out of mind).
Brief History of Vitamin K
This critical vitamin for health was discovered by Weston A. Price in the late 1920s, a famous dentist who traveled the world studying indigenous cultures and their dental health, in relation to their diets.
Among the many fascinating and enlightening discoveries made by his research was what he referred to as mystery nutrient “Activator X,” which he believed was a missing link between nutritional deficiencies and chronic disease. This is now thought to be vitamin K.
Vitamin K1 and K2
There are two main forms of vitamin K.
Vitamin K1 is found primarily in plant foods like dark, leafy greens, while vitamin K2 is found in animal sources and fermented foods. Both have benefits and are important for our health.
Health Benefits of Vitamin K
Blood Clotting and Wound Healing
Vitamin K is best known for its major role in the blood’s ability to effectively clot, and works hand in hand with calcium to do so. Studies show that a primary role of vitamin K is allowing the body to bind to calcium by modifying proteins. Calcium is essential for healthy development of our teeth and bones, and cannot function properly without vitamin K.
Prevents Heart Disease
Research shows that vitamin K can help to decrease of calcium build-up around our arteries, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Improves Dental and Bone Health
Various studies suggest that vitamin K2 can help to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures, while others show that it can also regulate the protein, osteocalcin, which is important for dental health.
While further research is needed, initial studies have found that vitamin K might reduce the recurrence of liver cancer, and a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
The Vitamin K and Vitamin D Connection
While supplementing with vitamin D is increasingly common, what you might not know is that getting enough vitamin K is essential for vitamin D is carry out its own roles in the body.
According to the Vitamin D Council, vitamins D and K work together to help your bones strengthen and develop properly.
Supplementing with vitamin K could be very beneficial, and eating a diet high in vitamin K-rich foods is definitely important.
To get plenty of vitamin K1, include the following (in this order):
- Mustard Greens
- Collard Greens
- Beet Greens
- Swiss Chard
- Turnip Greens
- Brussels Sprouts
For vitamin K2, include these foods:
- Whole fat dairy such as yogurt
- Liver and other organ meats
- Raw sauerkraut
Especially if these food sources are not available to you, consider supplementing with a high-quality vitamin K product.
Remember that it works synergistically with vitamin D (so you might need to supplement with both) and that getting plenty of vitamin K through either supplementation or foods (or both) is crucial to your health.
Shop now for Vitamin K 1 and Vitamin K 2.
Rachel Fiske is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and graduated from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition in Berkeley, California. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Rachel focuses on issues of weight management, GI problems, hormonal imbalances, fatigue and more via a whole foods diet and lifestyle changes.